I'll let you in on a secret: I really wish we'd had another child. Why? Because I had a really, really great name all picked out and it's a shame to let that go to waste.
Baby names are about the greatest topic of conversation out there because EVERYONE has an opinion and if you happen to be pregnant and are so foolish as to do a "test" by telling people the names you've picked out they'll have no problem telling you exactly how they feel about your choices.
There are great names, hilarious names, horrid names and names that you savor on the tongue each time you say it. I absolutely LOVE the sound of Jamaica Kincaid, always have, always will. But I'll tell you my dreams were shattered the first time I saw Madeline Albright--I felt rather betrayed after the regal and beautiful vision the name evoked.
When I was pregnant with Grace it was the fashion in our home state of Utah to take the first name of the mother and the first name of the father and glue them together in some abominable experiment that had "Frankenstein" written all over it. And let me tell you right now Mormons are the craziest people on the planet when it comes to bizarre baby names. When Judgment Day comes I prophesy that there will be many, many parents out there called to answer for the moniker they saddled their child with throughout their earthly sojourn and it will not be well with them.
Anyway . . . the woman who worked with me at Covey Leadership Center (yes, as in Stephen Covey, it's a long story) was named Michelle and her husband was Mark so they followed the crowd and produced a sweet innocent child that they named Marielle. Not Mary-elle, Mar-ee-elle. It sounded a lot weirder 17 years ago, trust me. But it wasn't nearly so bad as the couple down the hall who proudly told me they'd named their child Jaydeesa. I'm hoping the child had a glorious career in rap because that's about the only place a name like that would fit. I think they spelled it with a "Z" in there too.
I told my parents that we'd decided to embrace our adopted culture and use it to their honor by naming their first-born grandchild after them, hence the granddaughter of Melvin and Sharon would be either Melaron or Sharmel. We hadn't quite decided. We were able to keep a straight face for most of the time before letting them in on the joke and giving them the biggest relief of their lives. Doesn't Melaron just sound cancerous?? Or Sharmel? Is that the newest breed of dog?
I have seen every possible combination of letters thrown together with the letter J (and likewise K) to produce unique names for offspring and the result usually sounds as if it's being marketed by Pfizer as a treatment for herpes. I can just hear the commercial now: Take Kaydenza for when you get those nasty flareups!
People seem to produce names the way they produce smoothies. A handful of berries, a dash of vanilla, a little of this, a little of that, an "ELLE" or a "INE" for a suffix for femininity or a good old masculine "BR" or "K" for a boost of testosterone. Go figure. If only parenting took as much mental exertion as coming up with a unique name we'd have reached utopia by now.
The same parents who would never touch genetically engineered food will graft and splice consonants and syllables into unintelligible mutations, guaranteeing that no one will ever be able to 1) spell 2) pronounce or 3) assign a definite gender to the single greatest influencer in both how their child will perceive himself and how he will be perceived by his peers. I predict that in twenty years when all those poor unfortunate Nevaehs, Destinys, Brackens, and Keefers out there have attained adulthood they will rise up and in one class-action lawsuit suit and sue the United States government for failing to protect them from such abject cruelty.
"You named your daughter Jezebel? Really? And you don't think that's going to be a problem any time soon?"
Of course if you've read Freakanomics there's a whole section on the beauties of name trends. So many names try very hard to be pretentious and to rise above that middle class stigma (hence the bumper crop of Courtneys all those years ago--after all, Courtney sounds so regal to the middle class ear) but middle class names never get farther than their middle class origins. If you really want an upper class name (and I'm not talking celebrity names--they're not upper class in truth, they're just temporary wealth; here today, gone tomorrow) you'll do what the nobility do and go with royal names: Eugenie, Beatrice, Leopold, Ludwig, that kind of thing. I'm pretty sure that no where in recorded history is there a Queen Whitney or a King Brock though you might want to check the cast of Guiding Light where one such might be lurking. I could be wrong.
So go ahead--give me the worst names you've heard. Or the best because I do love hearing beautiful names as well. I've always thought that unusual foreign names are fun--I don't have problems with names that are unusual if they're real. I'm weird that way. When we were in India our driver, Sampath, had a daughter nicknamed Tulisee (Too-LISS-ee) and I swear that's about the most beautiful name I've ever heard, it just reeks of romance and flower gardens and she was as beautiful as her name. Saoirse is a gorgeous Irish name though I'd have a hard time giving it to a child knowing that American tongues would never pronounce it correctly.
And if you're interested in name trends here's one blogger's prediction of what the next hot names for boys and girls will be and there are some that aren't too bad. I'm kind of partial to Cicely, Elspeth, and Tamsin but Hamish, Balthazar, Oberon and Osias are a little harder to swallow.
Congratulations to Erin of Cedar City, Utah and Samantha of Lexington, Kentucky for winning the two Medela nursing packages. And congratulations to so many of you expectant and new mothers who entered--it's wonderful to hear of so many little babies out there. Quite exciting, really. Pick out some great names and if you really want to know what that mystery name we never used was I'll sell it to you. Kidding. Boy I loved that name.
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